WWF Response to the First Information Publicity for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of Poyang Lake Water Control Project: Also For A Lake of Clean Water, Please Choose No-Dam-Nor-Sluicegate Alternatives Instead

Posted on 02 December 2016   |  
© Poyanghu
On November 23rd, 2016, Water Resources Department of Jiangxi province made an announcement in their official website on the first information publicity for the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of Poyang Lake Water Control Project (“The Project”). The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) is highly concerned and reiterates its concern:
In view of Poyang Lake in the global ecological pattern has an irreplaceable ecological role; this planned Project blocking the connection of River and Lake will course a huge negative impact on ecology. For same purpose of keeping “a lake of clean water”, the construction of water control should not be the only approach for maintaining a healthy Poyang ecosystem and a sustainable development of the region, but the no-dam-nor-sluicegate alternatives instead should be considered as the best choice for the planning and practice.
We generally believe --
Poyang Lake is listed as a ‘Wetland of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat’ under the Ramsar Convention with global influence; it is the only representative of China’s accession to the GNF “Living Lakes Network”. Its ecological position in the global ecological pattern is irreplaceable, and it plays a decisive role in maintaining the ecological security, water security, food security and flood control security in the Yangtze River Basin. The periodic fluctuation of water level in Poyang Lake and free connected River (Yangtze) – Lake (Poyang) relationship are the important basic conditions for the high conservation value (HCV) of Poyang Lake, and change pattern of summer water and winter land is the basic guarantee of biodiversity. Poyang Lake has become the valley of more than 100 types of fish natural germplasm resources for the Basin, the largest winter migratory birds paradise of East Asia, and the natural habitat for the largest wild population of Yangtze finless porpoise.
We fully understand—
Over the past decade, due to the water control and infrastructure constructions, climate change impacts and unreasonable use of resources (sand dredging, overfishing, excessive use of water resources etc.) in the upper and middle reach of the Yangtze River and within Poyang Lake, there has been negative impact on the ecology and people’s livelihood in the Poyang Lake and its surrounding areas. The extreme (low) water level and local hydrological problem have become a great challenge to restrict the development of regional economy. It needs to deal with these internal and external pressures through various ways and means.
We highly appreciate--
Chinese government attaches great importance to the irreplaceable role of Poyang Lake in protecting biodiversity for Yangtze River Basin and the world, has positioned Poyang Lake as the “Green Core” of the zone mentioned in China’s “Major Function-oriented Zone Planning”, and designated a “Core Protected Area” of 5,181 square kilometers with the boundary line based on the peak water level (Hukou 22.48m) of July 30th, 1998, to reinforce ecological functions and prohibit the development and construction. On January 31st, 2015, the 4th Session of the 12th Jiangxi Provincial People’s Congress adopted the “The Resolution of that the Jiangxi Provincial People’s Congress on vigorously promoting the construction of ecological civilization demonstration area”, regulating that Jiangxi Province will designate and strictly adhere to the Ecological Red Line, build an ecological secure pattern with the main body of “One Lake, Five Rivers and Three Barriers”(“A Lake” for the Poyang Lake), and draw the Red Lines in the key ecological function areas, ecological environment sensitive and vulnerable areas. We also expect that under the background of ecological civilization, under the guidance of Grand Protection of Yangtze River, the Poyang Lake Ecological Economic Zone will have a new development thinking, there will be a better solution to solve the contradictions between the regional economic/social and the environmental development.
We continue to focus on --
The current proposal set for Poyang Lake Water Control Project, would obviously produce irreversible or uncertain impacts on the water quality, fish diversity, Yangtze finless porpoise habitat, wintering waterfowl habitats and connectivity between the lake and river; The support of the conclusions on the trend of drought normalization, degradation of ecosystem and weakening of ecological functions are not yet established; The proposed fish pass and the Yangtze finless porpoise migration channel have not been a precedent in China and cannot ensure the elimination of huge ecological risk; In terms of the wetland, the free connection between rivers and lakes is far more important than the man-made control of the water level lines, and the habitat heterogeneity and food richness brought by the hydrological fluctuation are the basic guarantee for the diversity of the living environment; The Project still have not considered the other proposals such as joint operating mechanism, enhancing the management measures, and increasing of the infrastructure input etc. All in all, this water control project cannot solve the problems occurring in the basin scale once and for all. It will also ruin the natural hydrological cycle of Poyang Lake, causing disconnection of river and lake, and destroy the ecological and hydrological processes, as well as ecosystem integrity.
We have always believed –
The low water of Poyang Lake is a complicated social and scientific issue under the multiple pressures of the new river-lake relationship, the intensified human activities and the global climate change. The Poyang Lake Water Control Project could be one of the potential solutions to alleviate the pressures on local environment and economy, but definitely not the only solution. If we set this Project as the only way to tackle the challenges, and draw a conclusion from the standpoint, will only make us a more vested short-term interests, blur the unknown ecological impact and long-term interests.
Meanwhile, the mentioned project is different to other regional dam projects; it is a construction project proposed based in the middle and lower Yangtze, where of dense population, high economic improvement, high utilization of resources, highly associated watershed properties and high conservation value of biodiversity. The existing scientific and technological means, capital investment, intelligent resources and policy guarantees have full potential to innovatively solve the current dual pressures of economy and environment.
However regrettably, despite repeated calls from various sectors of the community over the past six years, we have not seen any positive research results and solutions other than water control projects.
Therefore, we appeal--
The relevant decision-making departments could strictly safeguard the ecological Red Line, abandon the Poyang Lake Water Control Project to avoid the negative impact upon ecosystem, society and economy in the sub-basin and the Basin, and actively seek the no-dam-nor-sluicegate alternative solutions to meet the challenges brought for the Poyang Lake in the dry season, from the perspective of ecological civilization concept, grand conservation trend of the Yangtze River Basin, irreplaceable ecological significance of Poyang Lake, respecting the eco-hydrological process and keeping integrity of Yangtze-Poyang ecosystem;
Meanwhile, we appeal to relevant government departments and the social mass to act together, also aiming for a lake of clean water, to help with Jiangxi Province exploring scientific and reasonable alternative solutions, to make Poyang Lake become a sustainable power for better livelihood and well-being for Jiangxi Province as well as the Yangtze River Basin.
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